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Orthodox Church to take account of expert opinions in Czarist remains issue

July 17, 1:19 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The investigators would pass a decision on the case after obtaining the results of two more forensic anthropological tests, an authorship examination and a historical/archival study

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MOSCOW, July 17. /TASS/. Russian Orthodox Church will take due accounts of the results of expert research of the presumed relics of the slain family of Russian Czar Nicholas II found in Yekaterinburg in 1978 and 2007, a high-rank Church official said on Monday.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said earlier that comprehensive molecular and genetic tests had confirmed the remains found near Yekaterinburg in 1991 and 2007 were those of the members of Nicholas II’s family and the servants, who were murdered alongside with them in the former mansion of mining engineer Nikolai Ipatyev [known later as the Ipatyev House] overnight to July 17, 1918.

The committee spokespeople said earlier that the investigators would pass a decision on the case after obtaining the results of two more forensic anthropological tests, an authorship examination and a historical/archival study.

"The Investigative Committee has published its assessment regarding the genetic expert study of the Yekaterinburg remains," said Metropolitan Tikhon, he secretary of the Synod commission for scrutiny of the presupposed remains of the Czarist Family.

"The investigation as such isn’t over yet and several expert studies still await completion, in addition to genetic tests," Metropolitan Tikhon said. "Beyond any doubt, when we formulate a decision we’ll take account of expert research in all areas."

The Reverend Alexander Volkov, the press secretary of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia said earlier the Church decision on the identity of the remains found near Yekaterinburg could not be tied up to any dates.

He said the expert studies were 90% complete.

Bolshevik revolutionaries executed Czar Nicholas II, who had abdicated more than a year prior to the execution, Czarina Alexandra, Crown Prince Alexis, Grand Princesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, family physician Eugene Botkin, Czarina’s room-maid Anna Demidova, court chef Ivan Kharitonov, and the Czar’s footman Alexei [Aloise] Trupp overnight to July 17, 1918.

Investigator Nikolai Sokolov, who investigated the murder in Yekaterinburg from 1919 through 1922, partly under the anti-Bolshevik interim government of Admiral Kolchak, came to the conclusion that the executioners had destroyed the bodies with the aid of rectified oil of vitriol.

In 1978, detective and scriptwriter Geliy Ryabov and geologist Alexander Avdonin, who used old maps, archival documents and recollections of eyewitnesses found a mass grave in the township of Porosyonkov Log near Yekaterinburg [then Sverdlovsk] that contained the presumable remains of the Czarist Family. The official breakup of the grave took place only in 1991.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia instituted a criminal case for the murder of nine people in 1993 and a special governmental commission was set up to supervise the matter.

The government authorized the burial of the remains in the St Peter and Paul’s fortress in St Petersburg in 1998. Located there is the sepulcher of the Romanov Czars beginning with Peter I.

The Russian Orthodox Church, however, voiced strong doubts regarding the authenticity of the bodily fragments found at Porosyonkov Log by that time, especially in view of the fact the remains of Crown Prince Alexis and Grand Princess Maria had not been found there.

In 2007, scouts found one more presumable burial site with remains of bodies of the slain family members. The Russian Church raised a number of questions with the governmental commission somewhat later and asked the Investigative Committee to resume the investigation, which is did in September 2015.

The investigative efforts included exhumation of the remains buried St Petersburg and a supplementary identification that involved some previously inaccessible objects - the relics of the Czarina’s sister, Grand Duchess Elizabeth, which are kept in Jerusalem, and blood stains on the uniform of Nicholas II’s grandfather, Emperor Alexander II.

The investigators have also been scrutinizing a range of archival materials discovered after the closure of the initial investigation.

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